"The Flintstones" (1994): Yabadabadoo!!!
The Flintstones is a live-action film adaptation of the cartoon series of the same name. It was released in 1994 and stars such talent as John Goodman, Rosie O'Donnell, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Taylor, and Kyle MacLachlan.
For some reason, it didn't do well with audiences, scoring a sad 22% at the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.
I think one obvious reason is the generation gap. This film was made for 90's kids, and most of my generation wouldn't be familiar with the Flintstones -- unless, like me, their parents were fans of the show and had them watch it.
Meanwhile, the adults who grew up with the show were just too old to care by the time a film about it came out. So you can see how there would be virtually no audience looking to go see a film like this, and thus, it flopped.
I was one of the few people who actually loved and appreciated this film as a kid, especially since a lot of my favorite performers were in it!
John Goodman stared as Fred Flintstone and Rick Moranis starred as Barney Rubble. Anything with one or both of these actors is going to be fun, as these are actors who don't just take any role. If you look at their careers, they always chose interesting, strange, or fun roles.
The film centers around the friendship of Fred and Barney and how it crumbles the second Fred lets his insecurities get the better of him. Basically, Fred does what I talk about a lot in my articles here: he has an emotional wound, and instead of healing it, he projects it onto Barney and winds up hurting him terribly.
When the film opens, Fred has just given Barney the money he needs to adopt a son but is terrified of telling Wilma because he did it without including her in the decision.
It was wrong to go behind his wife's back because marriage is a partnership, and treating your spouse like an equal means including them in decisions that are going to impact their lives emotionally and financially. This is why it was wrong that Fred didn't tell Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins).
But because Fred is a good guy, he admits that he was wrong and apologizes, and it becomes clear that he hid what he did from Wilma simply because he was so desperately ashamed of living from paycheck to paycheck and being unable to give Wilma everything she wanted.
Helping Barney was probably as much about soothing his own bruised ego as it was about helping his friend. It made him feel good to be able to just give money away.
Fred's insecurities become clearer when Wilma's mother (Elizabeth Taylor) shows up. She hates Fred because he can't provide the rich life she always wanted for her daughter.
Fred reacts with anger and indignation. A secure person would have just waved off someone else's criticisms, would have recognized how rich and abundant they already were when it comes to the things that matter: family, love, friends.
But Fred was too insecure to see how rich he already was. Overcoming that insecurity was a part of his spiritual journey as a human being, a journey that he goes on throughout the rest of the film.
After a hilarious scene with Sheryl Lee Ralph as the adoption agent, Mrs. Pyrite, Barney wants desperately to pay Fred back for helping him adopt Bamm-Bamm (Hlynur & Marinó Sigurðsson).
He switches their tests at work, and as a result, Fred is promoted to an office job, where he is given a new assistant, Ms. Stone -- played by Halle Berry.
When watching this film again recently, I developed a new appreciation for the character of Ms. Stone.
Ms. Stone is helping the villain, Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan), to steal money from the company. She uses her sex appeal to get ahead, likely because it was the only way for a woman to move up in the company.
This becomes obvious when Ms. Stone (somewhat bitterly) refers to herself as nothing more than a secretary.
Fred points out that Ms. Stone is actually pretty smart, "he can tell." The picture above shows her reaction: she is touched that he -- unlike the other men at the company -- actually sees past her physical appearance to her attributes as a human being.
Fred is not very smart, but he is wise enough to see that Ms. Stone -- and women in general -- has more to offer than her sexual appeal. He values her when the other men at the office do not, restricting her to the role of a lowly secretary when it's obvious she has so much to give.
When examined in that light, it's easy to see why she would become bitter enough to steal money from the company.
It's also obvious that Ms. Stone has deep feelings for Cliff Vandercave, but Vandercave only sees her as a sex object: when they've pulled off their scheme and it's time to run, she finds that he's only bought a ticket for himself, intent on leaving her behind to take the blame alongside Fred.
A bitter Ms. Stone decides to turn against Vandercave and helps Fred and Barney bring him down. Though she is arrested at the end, she chooses to do the right thing and faces the consequences for her actions.
What a deep character for a silly kid's film. It's pretty clear to me why Halle Berry would have chosen this role. Playing Ms. Stone was a subtle way of giving the finger to the patriarchy, while teaching little girls that they are more than how attractive they are to men.
Like John Goodman and Rick Moranis, Berry seems to choose her roles carefully -- or else she tries to.
I forgive her for that Catwoman mess some years back.
Meanwhile, the Rubbles are now so poor because of what Barney did, they are living in the wild, eating brontosaurus eggs and rubbing sticks together.
Let me pause here to say how utterly cute Rosie O'Donnell was as Betty Rubble. She was just so sweet and adorable and that giggle. Hahaha.
In the end, it turned out the Dictabird (Harvey Korman) was the key to stopping Vandercave, as it was sitting in the office and witnessed everything that was going on.
Vandercave was so arrogant that he handwaved the Dictabird as a dumb animal, and in the end, his arrogance was his undoing.
Watching the Dictabird move and "talk" also really made me miss animatronics in movies. I grew up in the "Jim Henson era," where most special effects used puppets, so maybe I'm just nostalgic.
But animatronics -- when used well -- can be really cool. I miss them.
The film also used CGI for the animated sequences of Dino. I don't hate CGI in general but I hate it when it's not done well, and I felt Dino looked really fake.
Still, this movie is twenty-five years old. It gets a pass for bad CGI. Also, it wasn't a big enough issue that I hated Dino's depiction in the film. This is a live action film based on a cartoon, and such things just can't be avoided.
After Fred saves the day, restores his friendship with Barney, gains a sense of self-worth, and realizes that he was rich all along, we see that the entire movie was a film playing at the drive-in.
The film closes out with the standard gag of Fred's giant red ribs tipping the car and the theme song from the original cartoon plays, leaving you highly amused, happy, and satisfied after an hour and a half of whimsical fun.
Let us never speak of the sequel.
Own this family classic now!
© 2019 Ash